Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Another Haystack Needle

[ originally posted to math-teach @ Math Forum ]

True enough I'm the token "Fuller disciple" here on math-teach.

Given recent history, it's not surprising to find one of his "cult members" here. I use scare quotes cuz Fuller did his level best to avoid "cult leader" status, though he attracted his share of devotees, collaborators, co-conspirators (Marshall McLuhan, Arnold Toynbee, Hugh Kenner...).

I'm not apologetic for keeping his "concentric hierarchy" alive though, his Kepleresque embedding of polyhedrons one inside the other (Russian Dolls), with the tetrahedron his volumetric unit. A & B modules. T & E, S modules. Cubocta:Icosa :: S:E. https://repl.it/IqOL Lots of low-hanging fruit in this area, as David Koski will attest.

Sharing such content in K-14 is not that off the wall given how super-accessible it is, visually as well as mathematically. I'm used to other teachers sounding defensive, giving lip service to how math is a big tent... but maybe not that big. I'm also a speaker at art schools and maker spaces (more 3D printing ahead).

If Fuller's writing were incomprehensible, I doubt Nature would have singled out Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth as one of the more influential tomes of the 1970s.[1]

His writing is difficult, but so is Heidegger's. My background as a philosophy reader (Wittgenstein etc.) leads me to plow into esoterica such as Synergetics. Applewhite liked how I brought Wittgenstein's "meaning through use" dogma into juxtaposition with Fuller's alt-meanings. The Synergetics vocab was deliberately remote (see Synergetics 250.30).

When I share the whole number volumes table with kids, I'm quick to remind them they won't find any of this in the textbooks. That tends to add to their curiosity.

Remember, the Jitterbug Transformation is alluded to in the logo of the IMU (International Mathematical Union), and the old NCTM logo was an octet-truss. The memes are still out there, albeit in a somewhat X-Files blend.[2]


[1] 26 November, 2015 pg.

[2] http://controlroom.blogspot.com/2015/02/a-tale-of-two-logos.html